The past two days have been incredible for James Marsden fans, having him back on their screens for not one, but two projects! The actor reprises his role as Edward in Disenchanted and Ben in Dead to Me. All episodes of the third season of Dead to Me are now streaming on Netflix and you can watch Disenchanted on Disney+.
Enchanted came out back in 2007 and now, 15 years later, fans are getting to see what happens after happily ever after. Turns out it’s not so easy to get that fairy tale ending, which leads Giselle to turn to the magic of Andalasia for help, accidentally transforming the entire town into a real-life fairy tale and placing her family’s future happiness in jeopardy. Now, she is in a race against time to reverse the spell and determine what happily ever after truly means to her and her family.
Marsden opened up to me about what getting to return to this magical world and character meant to him:
“It was like a dream come true. I mean, I think we’ve been waiting for a long time to see if there was another story to tell or what happens after happily ever after, and it’s been 15 years. So I think at this point, a couple of years ago, we just assumed it wasn’t gonna happen. But then this script was written that we all loved and got excited about, and everyone’s schedules lined up and we did it. It was great. Yeah, it’s very exciting. I mean, that was such a special project for me, a special role to play. I just had so much fun, it was one of those roles where I just read the script, and I thought immediately, ‘I know what to do,’ not arrogantly speaking but sometimes you have to kind of pull your hair out a bit to figure out what’s the most kind of creative way to approach a character but this was an easy one. I was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s just straightforward, just loves the sound of his own voice, and loves being in love.’ Anyway, I was really excited to see all the original cast members and get to go down this road again, and also with a whole host of new friends and family with Maya, Gabby, and everybody so it was a big love fest and really exciting put the prince stuff back on.”
Since so much time has passed since the original, the sequel will allow a whole new generation to discover the first one. “That really is what we all want to do. When this much time has gone by, it’s easy to kind of forget about movies that came out and were successful, and people liked, even back then,” he explained. “I’m surprised when anyone stops me and says my seven-year-old daughter loves the original Enchanted. I’m like, ‘How did she even see it or find it? It’s been so long.’ And so, yeah, it’s nice to be able to remind people of the magic of the original and now continue the story as well not only for Giselle, Robert, Nancy, and Edward, but also to be able to share that with, like you said, a whole new generation.”
Last we saw Edward, he was getting married to Nancy in Andalasia. Now, we see the two of them enjoying their roles as King and Queen. Considering the two really didn’t interact in Enchanted, this gives audiences a fresh dynamic to fall in love with. So what was the relationship like for the actor to bring to life with his co-star, Idina Menzel?
“Oh, it was great. She’s been a good friend since the original and you know, we have so much fun together. I mean, I have fun, I’m not sure she has fun,” he joked, expressing that he constantly wants to duet with her. “But she’s game and so much fun. She’s got a really playful sense of humor and always up for us kind of goofing around and singing together, and I’m always trying to get her to do old ‘90s Ballad duets with me and you know, ‘A Whole New World.'”
“So it’s great. We have a good dynamic, and we get to sing together this time around, which is great, for one, that I get to sing with the legend Idina Menzel, but two, the world gets to hear her sing in an Enchanted movie. She didn’t get to sing in the first film, which is like a crime,” Marsden added. “The other day, I don’t know if this is a secret or not, but she sent me the recording of her song, she sings the song, ‘Love Power,’ in the movie, but then she also does like, a sort of — I don’t know if it’s for the radio kind of version or something, it’s just a kind of different modern feel to it, and I’m just like, ‘You are absolutely ridiculous, how talented you are.’ So I got to listen to that with my headphones on and was like, ‘Oh man, she’s something else.’ I think everyone’s gonna be really excited to hear her kind of… let it go for Disenchanted.”
Considering all the amazing props used in Disenchanted, specifically Edward’s sword, I had to ask if he was able to keep anything. “Oh man, I really wish. I wish I did, you know, they’re a little reluctant about giving things away just because there’s always a chance that we have to return to do another sequel or whatever,” he said. “So they have to keep everything kind of under lock and key, and I wish I would have — oh, the sword would have been amazing. The original suit would have been amazing. Yeah, I mean, it’s tough because on one hand, it’s like, ‘Boy, I’m just excited to be able to get to swing the sword again and jump back into that crazy prince suit again,’ but yeah, I didn’t get to take much away. I think it’s mainly because one, you never know if there’s gonna be reshoots, so if they give us stuff and we lose it, we’re in trouble. So they keep it just in case we come back for reshoots, we come back for a sequel, or something.”
If there was a third film, Marsden didn’t hesitate to say he would reprise his role again: “Oh, yeah. I mean, I’ve been lucky to have had a career for almost 30 years now in this business, and you go back to 1993, would you still be working in 2023, I’d probably say, ‘Maybe not, but if I get a couple of years out of it, that’s great.’ But I’ve been doing this for so long and that was one of the most pivotal roles for me. It was one of the most enjoyable roles to play, it showcased me in a way that was so different than what people knew me as for X-Men and things like that. And so, it’s a role I hold very dear to my heart and any opportunity to play, you know, to breathe life into the character of Edward time and time again, I’ll always jump at that chance.”
Dead to Me has also just returned for its third and final season, picking up from the dramatic season 2 finale in 2020. In the aftermath of yet another hit and run, Jen and Judy both receive shocking news, and are ready to risk their lives for a friendship that’s above the law.
The actor has been on the show since season 1, playing not one, but two characters: Ben and Steve Wood. So what has the journey meant to him? “Oh, it’s been… boy, how do I describe it? You know, I’ll say this: when I signed on, I signed on to play Steve in the first season, it was just for one season. It was like a kind of one-and-done thing and I was amused by how unsavory and the kind of buffoonery that this bad guy was in the first season, and I thought I could have some fun making fun of him and I did. It was great,” he explained. “Then I fell in love with Liz Feldman, Linda, Christina, and everybody involved with the process and I thought this is some of the smartest dark comedy writing. Christina and Linda, I just immediately became closer to both of them. I’ve known them for a while, but this drew us much closer, the experience. So I thought, ‘How do I extend this? I don’t want to leave this party.'”
He continued to tell me, “I wrote this email to Liz Feldman after the premiere of the first season, I said, ‘Is there any way of bringing this guy back from the dead? I mean, what can we do? I don’t want to leave this show, this family.’ Then she came up with the idea for the twins and I immediately thought, ‘Oh, gosh, can I pull that off? Are they gonna buy it?’ We just kind of doubled down on it and it’s a whole different character. So the experience until now has been just joyous, so much fun, so many laughs, and also so bittersweet because, obviously, we’ve gotten to just grow so close to these characters and also our friendships that we forged through this experience have grown, and so it’s always hard to say goodbye to characters that you’ve put your all your heart and soul into. Our friendships outside of the show will continue on, of course, but you know, the show deals a lot with loss and grief, and that human condition of having to go through and deal with those emotions. And so, here we are finding ourselves saying goodbye to the show, but also the characters are kind of doing this in a certain way without giving too much away about the third season. So, you know, that’s grief, right? That’s loss is like, having to say goodbye and so here we are as actors experiencing that as our characters experience it on screen.”
Of course, we then discussed what taking on the challenge of playing twins was like, especially when the roles were so different. “Oh, that’s a very good question. Yeah, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was so much fun. It was like a big juicy treat for an actor, right? You want to have opportunities to sort of shape-shift, to play completely different characters. That’s kind of the fun of what we do and in this, to be able to encapsulate it into one show, right? Like, to play two different characters on one show was a challenge for sure because I thought this can’t feel gimmicky, it can’t feel jokey, it’s got to feel grounded in reality,” Marsden concluded. “I approached them both with great conviction, my portrayals of these characters, and I almost had to view them as two separate projects, like, okay, psychologically, I have to approach these characters: Steve is one movie and Ben is another movie, right? They’re completely different shows and I had to kind of compartmentalize my creative process there, which got tricky when I was playing Ben opposite Linda because I was with Linda the whole first season as her boyfriend, the kind of bad guy boyfriend. So when I was around Linda on set and like in scenes, there was an urge to kind of jump back into Steve but I trained myself not to. Honestly, the writers and Liz Feldman did most of the work for me. The character was carved out, specifically on the page, so it was much easier for me to step into these two specifically separate characters.”